I liked this movie. It has a good character arc for Wolverine. In fact, a lot of the character work and acting is good. It also has some excellent fight scenes.
But I cannot recommend this movie. The plot makes no sense. The climax is fumbled. And the use of the Japanese setting and culture is wasted.
After the cold open, which is pretty cool, we find Logan (Wolverine) depressed and isolating himself in the northern woods. A young Japanese warrior named Yukio finds him and cajoles him to go to Japan to honour a promise made 60 years ago.
What awaits Logan is complicated. An old soldier, family intrigue, high technology, a venomous mutant, and ninjas are just some of the elements.
From the trailers it might seem as though the movie is about Wolverine losing his powers, but it isn’t. It is about Logan learning he is a hero with or without powers, with or without a costume. That it what works.
Those plot threads I mentioned before? Every one is botched before the end. Even the mutant power loss is botched as a plot point although it works as a character point.
You can ignore all that and enjoy the action though. Wolverine vs a horde of yakuza, Wolverine vs. more yakuza on a train, Wolverine vs. a samurai, Wolverine vs. a horde of ninjas, and the end battle. A battle I won’t spoil, but which is out of place after the yakuza, yakuza, samurai, ninja setup. The final battle is also less cool than the ones before, but it is still exciting.
The story draws inspiration from the first Wolverine miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. I’ve never actually read it, but I know it from the impact it has had on the character since. The movie has all the same elements, but it mixes them in a very different way. In comics, the Japanese setting is generally used to contrast Wolverine’s basic feral nature with the reserve, disciple and honour of a samurai. Plus ninjas. The movie had the ninjas, but a different theme. I missed the old theme.
Finally, the movie has a cool credits sequence.